Police search storage unit leased by suspect in officers slaying

August 25th, 2009 by

TAMPA – A late-night search warrant served on a storage unit in Oldsmar that was leased by Humberto Delgado Jr., charged in the slaying of a Tampa police officer Wednesday night, uncovered another rifle and piles of personal effects, police said today.

Officers searched the unit overnight, Tampa police Maj. George McNamara said.

Besides the .22-caliber rifle, McNamara said the unit was “crammed with personal effects,” mostly clothes.

McNamara stressed that the investigation is continuing, even though Delgado is in custody, held without bail in the Orient Road Jail and under a suicide watch. Homicide detectives are working around the clock, he said, to find out how the homeless Delgado got from Pinellas County on Monday night, where he was stopped and questioned by a deputy, to Tampa on Wednesday night, where he met, struggled with and, police say, shot to death Cpl. Mike Roberts.

Detectives are hoping that anyone who may have seen or come into contact with Delgado over the past several days will contact them so they can build a timeline to strengthen their case.

Detectives, McNamara said, “are committed to gathering all the information they can in this investigation. There will be no stone left unturned.”

Federal agents have been enlisted to tracking the firearms – there were five altogether – to determine where and when they were purchased.

The goal, McNamara said, is to make a rock-solid case that will result in “the harshest sentence provided by law.” If convicted of first-degree murder, which is what Delgado currently is charged with, he faces a possible death sentence.

Plans made for services

Police announced Friday that a wake will be held for Roberts from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at Blount and Curry Funeral Home, 3207 W. Bearss Ave. A memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Timothy Catholic Church, 17512 Lakeshore Drive in Lutz.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Roberts’ name will be etched into the Tampa Police Memorial monument at 411 N. Franklin St.

Delgado, 34, is accused of scuffling with Roberts, 38, on Nebraska Avenue at Arctic Street, just south of Busch Boulevard, on Wednesday night, clubbing the officer over the head with a handgun and then fatally shooting the lawman.

Police said that among the evidence collected is a grainy surveillance video from a nearby business that may show some of the struggle. Neither that nor the 911 call will be released, police said.

The suspect was captured a short distance away about a half-hour later. He was carrying a Kel-Tec 223 assault rifle and two handguns. He left one handgun at the scene of the homicide, police said. The handguns, a .22 caliber, .45 caliber and 9 mm, were seized and placed into evidence.

“We are probably lucky additional police officers were not shot or hurt,” said Tampa police Chief Stephen Hogue during a Thursday news conference.

In addition to the murder charge, Delgado, an honorably discharged U.S. Army private and former police officer in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is charged with aggravated assault on a police officer and carrying a concealed firearm.

Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said that Roberts was promoted to corporal last month and had his eye on making detective. A few days before he was shot, he got an offer to fill a detective position on the hit-and-run squad. He talked it over with his wife, McElroy said, and on Wednesday, accepted the position.

The position, which would have taken him out of patrol and off nights, was to have begun in about a month’s time, McElroy said.

No Bail

During a hearing today that lasted less than 90 seconds, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Walter Heinrich denied Delgado bail.

“Due to the nature of the charges and the strong case against you, you will be held without bond for the duration of your charges,” the judge told him.

Three members of Delgado’s family were in the audience and met with his public defender afterward.

“We are very, very sorry for his (the corporal’s) family,” said Jorge Benitez, Delgado’s uncle.

Security was tight during the hearing, conducted from the Hillsborough County jail by closed-circuit television. Deputies flanked the manacled Delgado. Another deputy stood nearby and a fourth stood in the doorway. Delgado spent the hearing with his head down, staring at the floor.

Heinrich told Delgado a decision on whether he will face the death penalty will come later. Prosecutors have 45 days from the time Delgado is arraigned to make that decision.

Legal experts said that decision is typically based on the nature of the crime and the personal and criminal history of the accused.

Delgado had lived with relatives in Oldsmar until he was kicked out and became homeless. On Monday night, he was rousted by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy who found him sleeping in an Oldsmar public park. He told the deputy he was homeless, but that he had a storage facility and was trying to secure government assistance so he could get a place to live. He was allowed to go on his way.

Relatives have said Delgado is mentally ill, but police say he was not delusional the night of the shooting. They say he struggled with Roberts, shot him and fled into a nearby park on Yukon Street west of Nebraska Avenue. He came across two people in the park and told them police were looking for him and not to tell police where he went.

Police also say Delgado used a cell phone to call his uncle while he was running from the scene, saying, “I shot a police officer. I think I killed him.” Police found recovered the phone and confirmed the conversation with the uncle.

Hogue says that is evidence he was lucid.

“His mental condition is what it is,” the chief said during the somber news conference Thursday. “But he was aware of what he was doing.”

Assistant Chief Jane Castor said today that she has been in contact with Roberts’ widow Cynthia. Roberts’ squad took Thursday night off to have dinner with the Roberts’ family, their shifts being covered by volunteers.

Castor said Cynthia Roberts’ main concern was for the around-the-clock work put in by the homicide detectives.

“She said, ‘I wish they didn’t have to do it,’ and that speaks for all of us,” Castor said. “We wish we didn’t have to do it either.”

One Response

  1. captain cheese

    My God. Dark Times

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